Other Updates:

Reflections on Leading a GRIP Team Process

Introducing Discerning Direction Together

5 Reasons to Attend Set in Motion

Dissecting the Dotted Diamond

Resilience in Ministry

The Allure of Structure

Are you a Releaser?

re·lease  /rəˈlēs/

  1. allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.
  2. allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.

– remove restrictions or obligations from (someone or something) so that they become available for other activity.

– remove (part of a machine or appliance) from a fixed position, allowing something else to move or function.  (http://t.ly/bYs6)

A few years ago, we added a sixth Body Building Role to  Grip. We discovered that we had been minimizing how some people are gifted to work behind the scenes in a special way to release others from tasks that might slow them down or keep them from fully exercising their own gifts. That’s what we call a Supporting Releaser.

So what’s the difference between an Equipping Releaser and a Supporting Releaser? Both are focused on releasing others in the Body to exercise their individual gifts. There is, however, a distinction as indicated by the different names.

1 Peter 4:10-11 puts the spiritual gifts in two general categories—verbal gifts and action gifts:

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Verbal gifts (“whoever speaks…”) have to do with communicating, training, educating, preaching, sharing the Word, evangelism, discipleship, pastoring, leading. We refer to the verbal gifts as Equipping Gifts. Through their words, Equipping Releasers train others, then empower them to lead or serve. The power of the Spirit is at work through the words of the Equipping Releaser.

When I was a very young minister, one summer I worked with a pastor who had a strong gift of evangelism. He took me with him to make house calls as he shared the gospel. At least the first few times he did the sharing. Then one afternoon, AFTER he knocked on the door of a prospect, he said to me, “This one is yours.” I still remember stammering through as I imitated what I had observed from his presentation. Afterwards, we sat in a café as we debriefed the experience before going to my second visit as the lead speaker. The next week, he said, I would be going with another partner and he would take a new learner. He felt he had equipped me and now he was thrusting me out of the nest to fly on my own. Once in a while he and I would go together for what I now understand was a check-up time for me as he helped refine my evangelism skills. That was an Equipping Releaser at work.

Action gifts (“whoever serves…”) are, well… action-oriented. These include serving, helping, giving, administering, providing resources, showing mercy. Your GRIP report calls these Supporting Gifts. Supporting Releasers free others to minister and serve. The power of the Spirit is in the actions of the Supporting Releaser.

“Supporters must be freed to support and not lead! We must be careful NOT to equate faithfulness with leadership. People with all supporting gifts are faithful, but NOT empowered and gifted by God to lead or equip others. Some ministries actually watch for those who serve the most, and then invite them out to be leaders. This is a huge mistake if such people’s gifts are all supporting gifts.” (From the GB Coaches Training Manual)

It is possible for someone with all supporting gifts to be an effective leader.  People who fill the Body Building Role of Supporting Releaser free others to minister the Word more effectively to see more fruit. And more fruit means God will be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11, John 15:8). That is their role in building up the Body of Christ.  The natural seat of the person (leader- or member of the team) is less important than the function they are fulfilling.  Their gifts will cause them to create the space or environment necessary for the words of others to be more impactful in shared ministry.

I knew a couple of team leaders who had all supporting gifts (helps, service, administration, giving, mercy). The people on their teams were all high performers who required very little supervision or guidance. So the team leaders both focused their energies on making sure their team members had everything they needed to get the job done–budgets, supplies, logistics, volunteers, or any number of things I would not even begin to think about. None of these chores seemed burdensome for these action-oriented, supporting team leaders, but they would have been agonizing for most of their team members who all had mostly equipping gifts. And their teams were very effective in seeing fruit in the form of new believers, disciples being formed, and churches being planted. The truth of the matter is, both of these team leaders were happiest being in the background and did not aspire to be the team leaders. They did not enjoy being up front as teachers or trainers. They found joy and helped bring fruit by providing support for others who worked out front through more verbal gifts. Both of these TLs were effective Supporting Releasers.

It just goes to show how God can do whatever he likes as He gives gifts and expects us to steward the gifts He gives us so that more people will know Jesus.

Here is a simple clarifier for anyone who might still be unclear about the difference between Equipping Releaser and Supporting Releaser: “Where do you see the power of the Spirit at work?” Is it in the words? That’s equipping releasing. In the actions? That’s supporting releasing.

Look back at your Grip-Birkman Coaches Training Manual to see definitions for the gifts and Body Building Roles. The latest edition is available under Resources on the GB website:

https://www.gripbirkman.com/coaches-resources. Be sure to log in as a coach!

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